By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
Women religious in the Diocese of Davenport took a head start on a Catholic Sisters Week “Challenge to End Hunger” by donating stimulus check payments to organizations that serve the hungry.
Their counterparts in Region IV of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) encouraged sisters nationwide to participate in the Catholic Sisters Week (March 8-14) campaign to help raise awareness about food insecurity and its underlying causes. Sisters in the Davenport Diocese belong to Region X, which covers Iowa, Nebraska and part of Missouri. Region IV members live in the east/southeast coast area.
Nearly 30 million adults and as many as 12 million children “live in households struggling to afford food,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports (Jan. 22, 2021). The agency further states that more than one in five Black and Latino adults and many more children report food insecurity. The USDA defines food insecurity as a lack of “consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.” Furthermore, food inflation concerns are deepening, the Financial Times reported Feb. 4.
The Challenge to End Hunger campaign suggests a variety of ways to work toward ending hunger and raising awareness about the issue, ranging from donations and organizing food drives to volunteering at a food pantry and advocating for hunger-alleviating policies.
Sister Mary Ann Vogel, president of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport, sent a letter to her community’s sisters about the campaign. She suggested contributing stimulus funds to Cafe on Vine and River Bend Foodbank, both in Davenport, or to similar organizations in areas where they have been involved in ministry.
“Sisters have been sharing with me the places where they were making contributions,” Sister Vogel said. Donations have been sent to hunger-alleviating organizations in Ottumwa and Des Moines, Iowa; Canton, Mississippi; and other places “where our sisters serve or have served.”
The Humility sisters already are involved in many efforts and organizations aimed at alleviating and ending hunger and poverty. Their commitment to affordable housing, for example, includes advocacy efforts. Housing is the underpinning for people to survive and thrive, Sister Vogel says.
Sisters of St. Francis of Clinton also engage in ministries that strive to eliminate hunger and poverty. So the leadership team, on behalf of its members, chose to donate stimulus check funds for the Challenge to End Hunger campaign, said Sister Jan Cebula, president of the Clinton Franciscans.
“We made the decision that we could pay it forward to people more impacted by COVID-19 than we are.” The first round of stimulus checks included Pantries United in Clinton and the Chicago area as well as in two other states and Café on Vine. The second round includes Pantries United in Clinton, three in the Chicago area, Café on Vine and the Clinton YWCA for food vouchers.
During Catholic Sisters Week, the Clinton Franciscans will do the weekly “Share Our Sandwiches” and take up a collection at The Canticle (the motherhouse) for the Clinton pantries. “All Sisters, Sojourners, Associates and employees will also be encouraged to take action supporting state or federal legislation and policy that promotes food security,” Sister Cebula said. Sojourners, Associates, employees and sisters living outside of Clinton are asked to donate to a pantry in their area.
“It’s pretty clear that a lot of people were impacted financially by the pandemic.” Food budgets are the place where people have the most flexibility to scrimp. They can’t forgo paying rent and utilities for fear of losing their home or their heat, she noted.
Sister Cebula finds encouragement in the generosity of people and businesses responding to people in great need because of the pandemic. “We’re all in this together. If one in our community hurts, we’re all going to hurt. I think it’s that collective ‘doing’ that is important.”
For more information about the Challenge to End Hunger, go to (https:// tinyurl.com/y5rfm7zh).
Get involved with Hunger Challenge Week
During Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, Sisters across the U.S. are leading an effort to address food insecurity and underlying causes, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty, unemployment/ under-employment, and inconsistent access to healthy food. Here’s how to get involved:
March 8: Register to participate in a webinar about Bread for the World’s annual hunger advocacy campaign. Participants will learn about the 2021 Offering of Letters advocacy campaign and how churches and individuals can work to reduce hunger in the U.S. and around the world. The webinar will take place March 9 at noon; advanced registration is required March 8 at https://bit.ly/3rTgI5m.
March 9: Participate in a virtual Living Room Conversation on hunger and health. These virtual small group discussions will help create new relationships between people who do not currently share the same viewpoints. The conversation will take place from 6-7:30 p.m.; advanced registration is required at https://bit.ly/3pluBaR.
March 10: Today, send a message to Congress and tell them to fight against any attempts to cut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding, which helps families make ends meet by stretching their grocery budgets. Use the form at https://bit.ly/3anfCcc to send an email message, or contact senators and representatives directly.
March 11: Every Thursday from noon to 1 p.m. the Clinton Franciscans distribute sack lunches to the hungry in our community at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 715 S. 3rd St. in Clinton (at the rear entrance to the church in the parking lot). To make a food or cash donation or to volunteer contact Lori at (563) 242-7611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 12: Participate in a virtual movie screening and online discussion about the film “Starved: Our Food Insecurity Crisis” today at 3 p.m. Visit http://www.clintonfranciscans.com/news-and-events-events.html?id=671
March 13: Register for the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, which will take place March 16-18. Cost is $75 per person; limited scholarships are available. Learn more at www.antihungerpolicyconference.org.
March 14: Learn more about hunger in America. A list of resources can be found at http://www.catholicmessenger.net/2021/02/hunger-week-activities/